Health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. is changing its corporate name to Anthem, the well-known brand it uses in California and other states.
The makeover comes as health insurers increasingly compete for individual consumers on government-run exchanges under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The change is expected to take place by the end of the year. It is subject to a special shareholder vote Nov. 5.
Indianapolis-based WellPoint, the nation’s second-largest health insurer by enrollment, was a major player during the initial rollout of Obamacare.
Its Anthem Blue Cross unit in California grabbed the largest enrollment in the Covered California exchange with a 30% market share.
Nationwide, the company signed up nearly 770,000 people under the health law through the end of the second quarter.
Joseph Swedish, WellPoint’s chief executive, said the switch made sense as individual consumers and employees at big firms take a bigger role in choosing their health benefits.
Some employers are switching to private exchanges where workers have several insurers to pick from.
“We believe it is important to call ourselves by the name that people know best — Anthem,” Swedish said in a statement. “Changing the corporate brand to Anthem is an important expression of our commitment to serve as a trusted partner in health.”
The WellPoint name came from the company’s 2004 merger between Anthem Inc. and WellPoint Health Networks Inc. The company runs Blue Cross health plans in 14 states, including California and New York.
Swedish, since becoming CEO in 2013, has sought to rebuild the company’s reputation with investors and customers.
The WellPoint name came under heavy criticism in 2010 when the company tried to raise rates in California by as much as 39%. The national uproar that ensued helped President Obama win approval of his health law in Congress.